NSTA's Science Matters Newsletter

February 2013

Here are your science education resources and announcements for February 2013 provided by the Science Matters Network. Please forward them on to other science educators in your school and/or school district.

Table of Contents

Results of the 2012 National of Science and Mathematics Education Now Available

Earlier this month, the results of the 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education were released. Commissioned by the National Science Foundation and conducted by Horizon Research, Inc., the survey assessed changes over time and provided current data on essential elements of the K–12 science and math education system in the United States. Areas addressed include: teacher backgrounds and beliefs, teachers as professionals, science and mathematics courses, instructional objectives and activities, instructional resources, and factors affecting instruction. A total of 7,752 science and math teachers in schools across the U.S. participated in this survey.

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New NAEP Report Reveals Demographic Shifts and Achievement Trends in the Nation’s Five Most Heavily Populated States

A National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report card, released this month, summarizes results in several subjects from multiple states—and holds clues to challenges and achievements from which other states may learn.

"Mega-States: An Analysis of Student Performance in the Five Most Heavily Populated States in the Nation" reveals demographic shifts and achievement trends in the most heavily populated states—California Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas—whose students together represent nearly 40 percent of the nation's public school students. The report presents academic performance for students in grades 4 and 8 in reading, mathematics, and science and includes average scores among the five states , as well as national averages and results among various demographic groups.

Highlights from the report (in science) include:

  • Compared with the nation, the percentage of low-income fourth-grade students performing at or above Proficient in Florida was higher, while Illinois, New York, and Texas were not significantly different.
  • In 2011, eighth-grade students in Texas scored higher than the nation and other mega-states.

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NSTA Announcements

Board Announces New Executive Director

NSTA took on new leadership last week, as Dr. David L. Evans assumed the role of Executive Director. Dr. Evans succeeds NSTA Interim Executive Director Dr. Gerry Wheeler.

Before joining NSTA, David served as the Director of the Center for Sustainability: Earth, Energy, and Climate at Noblis, Inc., a Virginia-based not-for-profit provider of science-related, strategic, and technology consulting services to government and commercial entities.

For several years he was Under Secretary for Science at the Smithsonian Institution, where he oversaw research and education activities, strategic planning, outreach, and fundraising. David also served in leadership positions at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Ocean Services, and the Office of Naval Research.

Read more about NSTA’s New Executive Director here.

NSTA Joins inSPIRE STEM USA Coalition

NSTA is now a charter member of the newly formed inSPIRE STEM USA coalition (Supporting Productive Immigration Reform and Education) . Comprised of businesses, education advocates and other national organizations, the coalition works closely with policymakers and thought leaders to advocate for comprehensive legislation that supports both a short and long term strategy to close the STEM job gap and strengthens the U.S. STEM education pipeline. Read more about the coalition here.

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Teacher Education, Professional Development, and Grant and Award Opportunities

Calling All New Middle and High School Science Teachers

Science teachers located throughout the country, who will be entering their second through fifth year of teaching and whose schedule is a minimum of 51 percent middle or high school science, are encouraged to apply to the 2013-2014 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy. For this academic year, The Dow Chemical Company, the American Honda Foundation, the Bayer Corporation, and Lockheed Martin will fund the participation of the science teachers selected to participate in the Academy.

NSTA Fellows chosen for the program receive a comprehensive membership package, online mentoring with trained mentors who teach in the same discipline, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of web-based professional development activities, including web seminars. In addition, each NSTA Fellow receives financial support to attend and participate in NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education, taking place in Boston, April 3–6, 2014.

For more information about the NSTA New Science Teacher Academy or to learn how to apply, please visit the Academy website. Applications must be submitted no later than August 1, 2013 to be considered.

ACS-Hach High School Chemistry Grants Can Help a Teacher in Your Community

Grants of up to $1,500 are available to chemistry teachers with innovative ideas that transform classroom learning, foster student development and reveal the wonders of chemistry. For more information and to apply online, visit www.acs.org/hach . Applications are due April 1, 2013.

John H. Lounsbury Award for Middle School Educators

The John H. Lounsbury Award for Distinguished Service is the highest award given by the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE), formerly National Middle School Association (NMSA). This award is given only when an individual has demonstrated a high level of service, integrity, and leadership in middle level education. Selection procedures include a committee review of received nominations and materials. If a recommendation results from committee deliberations, it is submitted to the Board of Trustees for a final decision.

Viable candidates for this award include those who have made a global impact on middle level education, have a minimum of 10 years of actively demonstrated, distinguished service, have demonstrated scholarship of the highest level in professional writing and research, and have maintained dedicated service to middle level education beyond the local, state, or regional level. Click here for more information.

NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grants

The NEA Foundation Student Achievement Grants provide funds to improve the academic achievement of students by engaging in critical thinking and problem-solving that deepen knowledge of standards-based subject matter. The work should also improve students' habits of inquiry, self-directed learning, and critical reflection. Maximum award: $5,000. Practicing U.S. public school teachers, public school education support professionals, or faculty or staff at public higher education institutions are eligible to apply. Application deadlines are February 1, June 1, and October 15. Click here for more information.

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Teacher Resources

Make Your Own Infographics

Create and share infographics and interactive charts in minutes with this website. K–college teachers will find templates and instructions for presenting data creatively. Learn how to produce customizable, interactive online charts, embed videos into articles and presentations, and present information in engaging ways. Your data will never look the same again!

Tox Town Environmental Health Science Units

Tox Town—six new curriculum units produced by the NIH—introduce middle level students to environmental health science issues in the community. Designed for either classroom or after-school science club use, the units emphasize social action and address the topics of water quality; air quality; chemicals in the home; food safety; runoff, impervious surfaces, and smart development; and bottled water versus tap water. Each unit presents real-world scenarios along with hands-on experiments exploring each topic in more depth. In the water quality unit, for example, students test their school’s drinking water, compare it with water from other sources, and communicate their findings to the school community. Tox Town’s curriculum developers would like to partner with educators across the country who are using the curriculum units and could share their experiences with colleagues via media and conference presentations. For more information, contact Alla Keselman at keselmana@mail.nih.gov.

Brain Lessons and Resources

At the education page from brainfacts.org, K–12 teachers can access lessons, videos, and activities that explore how the brain works. The resources are culled from organizations and universities with an interest in the brain and include offerings for educators at every grade level. The diverse collection includes See All You Can See, an interactive website about the eye from the National Eye Institute, and Build a Brain, a hands-on laboratory experience for high school students from the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.

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Student Opportunities and Resources

Scientific American Science in Action Award

Do you have an idea that could make the world a better place? That's the aim of Science in Action, a $50,000 award sponsored by Scientific American as part of the Google Science Fair .

The award honors a project that can make a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge. Submissions should be innovative, easy to put into action and reproducible in other communities. In addition to the prize, Scientific American will fly the Science in Action winner(s) to the finalist awards event at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., in September 2013, and will establish mentoring for a year.

The Google Science Fair is open to students ages 13 to 18. Entries are due April 30, 2013. Click here for more information.

Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge

The 15th annual Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge rewards students for their science acumen, demonstration of innovation and curiosity, and communication skills. Students have the opportunity to compete for $25,000 and the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist.” Encouraging students to share their passion for science, the Challenge asks students to create a one to two-minute video communicating the science behind a possible solution to an everyday problem related to one of the following categories: How We Live, How We Work, or How We Play.

Evaluated on their creativity, scientific knowledge, persuasiveness, and overall presentation, 10 finalists will be selected to participate in an exclusive summer mentorship program working directly with a 3M scientist. During the program, each finalist will be challenged to create an innovation that solves a problem in society. The students will meet virtually with their mentor and will receive resources and support provided by 3M and Discovery Education. Each finalist also will receive a trip to the 3M Innovation Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, to compete in the final challenge in October 2013. Videos will not be judged on production skills and may be recorded on cell phones or basic digital cameras. Submissions are due by April 23, 2013. For more information, click here.

Kids Club Website

K–4 teachers, check out the newly revamped NASA Kid’s Club website. Students can journey with Nebula, the Clubhouse commander, and explore space games and interactive features. They can see pictures of Earth taken from space; read about why NASA explores; play a game about what astronauts eat in space; discover what their age and weight would be on a moon or another planet; or assemble a polygon featuring NASA aircraft. The Now in Space area provides current and past information about astronauts on the International Space Station.

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What Is Science Matters?

Science Matters is an initiative by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to bring content, news, and information that supports quality science education to parents and teachers nationwide.

Science Matters, sponsored by the ExxonMobil Foundation and Shell Oil Company, builds on the success of the Building a Presence for Science program, first launched in 1997 as an e-networking initiative to assist teachers of science with professional development opportunities. Building a Presence for Science—now Science Matters—reaches readers in 34 states and the District of Columbia.

Why does Science Matter? Science is critical to understanding the world around us. Most Americans feel that they received a good education and that their children will as well. Unfortunately, not many are aware that international tests show that American students are simply not performing well in science when compared to students in other countries. Many students (and their parents!) believe that science is irrelevant to their lives.

Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy, and this innovation depends on a solid knowledge base in science, math, and engineering. All jobs of the future will require a basic understanding of math and science. The most recent ten year employment projections by the U.S. Labor Department show that of the 20 fastest growing occupations projected for 2014, fifteen of them require significant mathematics or science preparation to successfully compete for a job

This is why Science Matters. Quality learning experiences in the sciences—starting at an early age—are critical to science literacy and our future workforce. Feel free to publish this information in school newsletters and bulletins, and share it with other parents, teachers, and administrators.

Visit the Science Matters website at www.nsta.org/sciencematters.

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We Want to Hear from You

Do have a story idea or announcement that you think we should consider? Do you have a suggestion for how we can make this newsletter better? Let us know what you think. E-mail us your suggestions and feedback at sciencematters@nsta.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

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